StreetsPAC's Testimony to City Council on a Transportation Master Plan and LPIs for Bikes

StreetsPAC earlier today gave the following testimony at the New York City Council Committee on Transportation's hearing on bills that would create a Transportation Master Plan, and authorize LPIs for bikes:

StreetsPAC strongly supports Intro 1557, which would require the Department of Transportation to issue and implement a master plan for use of the city’s streets, sidewalks and pedestrian spaces.

As City Council Speaker Corey Johnson underscored in the comprehensive “Let’s Go” report his office issued in March, the city too often takes the path of least resistance in implementing bicycle or pedestrian or transit projects. This is not meant as a criticism of NYCDOT; Commissioner Trottenberg and her teams are deeply committed to the safety and mobility of all New Yorkers. Politics, however, too often get in the way of their work.

While the Department is of course concerned about being held to arbitrary targets, we’re confident that NYCDOT and the Council can arrive at mutually agreed benchmarks that are both aggressive andachievable. And the simple fact is that we needtargets. The city’s Bicycle Master Plan has not been updated since it was issued in 1997. While we have of course expanded greatly on that plan, we still are far from the kind of fully connected and safe bike network the Speaker’s report envisions, and that a truly bike-friendly city requires.

Creating a master plan will also help insulate our progress on transportation from the vagaries of changing administrations. We’re falling behind major world cities that have more quickly recognized the importance of reducing car dependency, including Paris, London, Oslo and Barcelona, to name just a few. The future of New York City surely is not one in which cars will dominate our streets, and a master plan will help us get to that future more quickly, directly, and efficiently.

A master plan will also help us better integrate the many facets of our transportation network. There’s no good reason New Yorkers shouldn’t be able to transfer freely from a bus to a ferry, or a shared bicycle to a subway. And the fact that our transit system is not accessible to all New Yorkers, regardless of their mobility, is just not acceptable.

Additionally, a comprehensive plan will be critical to turning around our struggling bus system, which is in dire need of separated lanes, universal signal priority, streamlined routing, and all-door boarding. It will help us more quickly rationalize the way we treat the curbside, implement better parking and loading-zone policies, and accelerate the breaking of car culture. It will help improve the safety and mobility of all New Yorkers.

It is hugely important, however, that the City Council provide NYCDOT with the resources it will need to create, and adhere to, a transportation master plan. This is a mandate that cannot go unfunded. As the first line of the “Let’s Go” report states, transportation is the lifeblood of New York. We must ensure that we fund it as such.

StreetsPAC fully and unequivocally supports Intro 1457, which would permit a person riding a bicycle to proceed on a green leading pedestrian interval, or LPI signal, at an intersection. The 50-intersection pilot program for the LPI-for-bikes effort has been a complete success, and we urge quick passage and implementation of the bill. It will improve safety for people riding bikes, without compromising safety for anyone else. Let’s roll it out citywide as soon as possible.

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StreetsPAC supports candidates for public office who will champion Safe, Complete and Livable Streets.